The Education of Axel Heyst

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AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

I read Build a Better World in Your Backyard, (BWYB) instead of being mad at the bad guys, by Paul Wheaton and Shawn Klassen-Koop, about a week ago (thanks for the copy!). It's kicked loose a lot in my brain. I need to explain a few things for context.

A quick summary of the book
The book BWYB is extremely accessible, quite funny, and yet the value/word is very high. Paul, Sean, and their support crew obviously put a ton of work in to making the book polished. The point of the book is not to provide all of the technical information required to build a better world in your backyard, although it covers many interesting specific techniques and approaches. The attempt of the book is to show you how to think about how to build a better world in your backyard.

Paul's classic example of how to think is the lightbulb. Everyone thinks incandescents are evil. Paul points out that CFLs are full of toxins and their performance is actually quite bad. LEDs are better than CFLs on all fronts, but AC LED bulbs have sophisticated and toxic electronic components, and the blue-spectrum light messes with our circadian rhythms. He points out that incandescents are almost completely non-toxic, the spectrum of light they give off is healthy, and you can use their heat output as part of your heating system, making your overall energy consumption much lower than if you were using LEDs and then had to get heat some other way. The whole book is full of this kind of "dig a little deeper" thinking in a number of different domains (shelter, gardening, home heating, sanitation, cleaning supplies...), and in my view is the point of the book.

In the radically deviant financial strategies chapter, he includes his story of Ferd and Gert, which you can find online. Ferd is a wage slave. Gert is a High Eco Wheaton Level Individual; she has a little bit of land, grows almost all her food from it, sells a little bit here and there, and mostly spends her time doing whatever she wants. She has a little money, but spends almost none of it because money is mostly incidental to her lifestyle. If you gave her a million dollars, her life wouldn't change at all.

A reminder of where I'm at
I make most of my life decisions based on my understanding of climate change, peak [resource], ecological destruction, and a JMG Long Descent style collapse which I think history will decide we're already in the beginning stages of. I've worked in "sustainability" for over a decade. I grew up out in the boonies off-grid, am acquainted with the sort of hard work that goes in to homesteading and rural living, and have a low comfort requirement for my lifestyle. I struggled for a long time to figure out how to fit all the pieces of my life in to a coherent approach, and finding ERE was like finding the treasure map to my El Dorado. I'm not *there* yet, but I have the map now and some faith that I'm finally headed in the right direction, and not just aimlessly wandering the jungles.

My immediate reaction to the book
I got stoked! I got excited! Aha, here's another piece to the puzzle!

ERE allows a great amount of flexibility, makes plenty of space for any number of styles of approach. Therein lies its strength - it's universally applicable. I've known from the beginning that my style involves dirt, growies (Paul's word, love it), humanure piles, and buildin' stuff. Reading BWYB dumped a bunch of fuel on that vision.

A few things became clearer to me about my path ahead.

The model of Gert (hm, the Gert Construct? yes, that'll do nicely) - ahem, The Gert Construct shows you the end point, the dream of The Lazy Gardener. But on its own, it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Where did Gert get her land? Where and how did she acquire her knowledge and skills? How on earth did she learn all of that while holding down a job (assuming she had one)? It seems likely to me that there's a danger of buying in to the ultimate vision of The Gert Construct without a real understanding of what it takes to get to that point. I can imagine launching off in that direction with oh, say, a year's worth of runway, assuming you'll be eating all your own food by this time next year, but turns out you don't even know how to grow a tomato, and you fail.

Trigger Alert: A tangential dive in to the controversy around "permaculture"
DW mentioned the word "permaculture" to a friend of hers, and her friend got quite triggered by it. She's had bad experiences with a) taking a PDC from someone who'd taken *their* PDC only a year or two before, and b) urban armchair permaculturists arrogantly telling people actually attempting to grow things how wrong they're doing it. The outburst inspired me to spend an hour reaping the results of sowing the search term "criticisms of permaculture" in to the fertile earth of the internet. Based on that, my perceptions are these:
  • many people who attempt to "do permaculture" don't respect the learning curve. They buy in to the lazy gardener narrative, without understanding the work that goes in to getting to that point (if it truly exists or is a worthwhile aim even if it is at all).
  • many people treat permaculture as their new religion; they grasp on to it as their narrative for how Society can Be Saved. They haven't dug deep in to their fears around the collapse of industrial civilization, and don't realize that Permaculture has become their means of staving off existential despair. They haven't gone through an acceptance of the mortality of humanity yet. And so they become insufferable pricks about it.
  • it seems that many people don't respect the difference between backyard permaculture and commercial agriculture (of any style). Perhaps they think they'll "do permaculture" on their new land and that is how they'll pay the bills. Or they "do some permaculture" in their backyard, and think that qualifies them to tell a third generation market farmer how to approach pest management on his thousand acre farm.
  • purity purges. I imagine this has got to exist.
My takeaways from this:
I'm not going to use the word permaculture for the time being. Seems it has a lot of baggage attached to it, and I don't want to set myself up to a) accidentally fall under the spell of an Evangelist who is using permaculture as a way of refusing to acknowledge his own mortality, or b) fail to absorb other sources of information, or c) give permaculture a bad name by being "yet another one of those clueless noobs".
My approach is to start with an ecology textbook, a botany textbook, and from there to move on to as broad a diversity of "how to grow stuff" material as I can find: permaculture, polyculture, no-till, intensive, natural, etc etc.

It is interesting, isn’t it, that the amount of passion people who are trying to improve the world direct at “bad guys” is insignificant compares to the passion with which they mock *other* people who are trying to improve the world, but in a way that they don’t agree with. Oil execs? Bad, bad men, shake head sadly. Permaculture snobs? ACTUAL EVIL MONSTERS. This dynamic is present, as far as I can tell, in all forms of activism, and is why so many activist groups are only full of people who can handle being up to their eyeballs in toxicity. Paul actually speaks to this in his story of Gert, where he says she posted a couple times on the internet, but was flamed, and so she just doesn't go on the internet anymore. (Who is John Galt?) What a shame.

Back to the main thread - how to achieve Gertitude
The trick to Gertitude is twofold: you need money to bridge between now and full Gertitude, and you need to learn a lot of things to achieve the dream of the lazy gardener. You can't go from eco level 3 to swapping tips with Sepp Holzer in a year.

The Money Bit:
BWYB has a section on ERE, and then Paul proposes his own strategy which is just ERE except instead of investing, spend time generating passive incomes and when you have enough to buy land and cover expenses, you're done. He calls it BEER (better early extreme retirement).

Paul says he doesn't trust his ability to generate income from investing. Jacob says he doesn't trust his ability to generate passive income from "doing stuff on the internet". I agree with both of them, but hold on to that thought for a second.

The Learning Curve Bit:
No one is going to take a PDC, buy an acre or two, and be Gert in a year, assuming they start out anywhere near your average Western salaryfolk on the learning curve. A lot of time and effort is going to have to go in to ascending the sigmoid curve.

So the tension is this: to achieve Gertitude, you both need a source of income (that you can't get from your raised beds because you still suck at that) and a large chunk of time, as in, years. If you quit your job without enough runway, you'll be poor before you've learned enough. If you continue your soul-sucking FT job and fiddle around in the backyard when you have time, it'll take you 154 years to learn enough. What to do?

The Solution Space
Obviously, one could just do the fullERE thing, accumulate to FI, and devote their RE energies to the learning curve. I could do that.

The danger is that if you fullERE, you might not have extrinsic motivation to push up the learning curve, and so you don't. You dabble, but since you don't depend on the Gert skills in any meaningful way, you never achieve full Gerthood. I'm concerned about this fate.

Another method is to semiERE your way there. Do your semiERE shtick to fund your lifestyle, focus most of your free time on the learning curve, and achieve Gertitude ~4 years faster (or, at all, in case you'd have failed to achieve Gertitude if you FI'd first).

But here's the thing. The promise of Gertitude, as the promise of ERE WL7+ as I understand it, is that money is incidental to your lifestyle. Remember - if you gave Gert a million dollars, her life wouldn't change at all.

So.... what's the point of doing the standard accumulation phase? Why spend 40+hrs/wk in your specialization to get 35x or whatever, if by the time you achieve the state of being you say is your end goal, that pile of cash will be incidental? Not to mention the risks and dangers of having to deal with greater loss aversion and reduced motivation.

And if we can assume that the compounding return on *skill* is anywhere similar to the compounding return on money, then isn't it much more important to build up your skill capital as quickly as possible?

In fact lets flip this whole thing on its head. One standard ERE narrative is "first, serious accumulation phase of money, during which my skill acquisition is as much as I can handle but lets be honest, it's on secondary cruise control until I RE, and once I RE skills acquisition will likely be a bit of a dabbler's hobby because FI mfaaaa!".

What about "first, serious accumulation phase *of skills and knowledge*, during which my money acquisition is as much as I can handle but lets be honest, it's on secondary cruise control until my skills are such that I barely even need it at all".

I'm not saying everyone's goal *should* be to achieve Gertitude, WL7+, or anything else. I'm saying *if* someone's goal is to achieve Gertitude/WL7+, more than just FI or RE, then a close strategic examination of the path there is in order. I think there are many paths that lead to a cul-de-sac at WL5, or WL6, a local minima. I also think there are multiple paths to WL7+/Gertitude, but we are exposed to very few of these paths! We know of Jacob-style WL7, we have this Gert story but we don't know how she pulled it off. But we've got tons and tons of examples of people who've made it to WL5 or even 6, and so we follow in their footsteps. But if I'm right about the existence of local minima, this could be an error!

Image

This line of thinking is why I'm thinking it would be a mistake to go back to work FT. My progress along the WL's would necessarily stall, and I might find myself stacked up against a cliff. (Also, however, I'm aware that I'm somewhat abusing the notion of the Wheaton scale as a pedagogical tool, and not a map/path/set of instructions. Let me say this: when I think about the sort of lifestyle I want, and then compare it to the Wheaton Scale, it's 7+.)

Stories: extremeFIRE, The Renaissance Ideal, and the extreme difficulty in breaking free of consumer culture
Let's take a couple steps back again, and re-approach the issue from a slightly different angle.

Adopters of ERE, who tend to come from FIRE, often take the financial game and take only a perfunctory pass at the Renaissance Ideal. They go full pro on the FIRE stuff, and the #skillz are amateur hour. It's possible to live off 700/mo through masterful frugality, but not know the first thing about growing a tomato (I don't either, at the moment, by the way). This is ERE without the renaissance ideal, which arguably isn't ERE, it's just extremeFIRE, heavily influenced by ERE-level thinking.

Why don't more people become Renaissance Badasses? I think it's because of a lack of role models, of imaginative narratives from which to pick and choose.

JMG just talked about how politics is downstream from culture, and culture is downstream from the imagination, which is fed by 'the poets' - people who create the art. Applying this to a personal lifestyle perspective, our lifestyle is downstream from our imagination, and we feed our imagination with stories.

extremeFIRE is a flavor of the familiar model - it is Elite Level Consumerism. Middle class lifestyle and early retirement on <1000k/mo - it's a difference in degree of what we already are and are already surrounded by. We have many many examples of digital nomads, low-cost travelers, people who've FIRE'd over the past few decades. When our imagination goes to work on our ERE goals, it grabs bits and pieces from what it has lying around close to hand, and applies a FIRE lens to it. We peruse the same menu of options as everyone else, we just are the frugality hackers of the world and so we get those things much more inexpensively. It's the same familiar consumer-identity story, with a twist.

The Renaissance Ideal is not the same familiar story. Renaissance Axel is not some damned clever consumer. Fine... but what *is* he? Who else is he like, sort of? I've realized I don't have a good answer to this question. I've met Jacob. He's awesome. And I don't want to be Jacob. This is no insult! I'm not capable of being a mini-Jacob, because we aren't operating with the same set of equipment. He drew the map/set of instructions so that I could assemble my own path, not so I could attempt to copy his. I need to go forth and assemble a set of role models that inspire me (something something six-C model here), that will pull me towards the lifestyle I want.

The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves are combinations and syntheses of stories of other people. The creativity and uniqueness is in how we mix and match - it's not necessary to sit in an empty room and create our own story ex nihilo. Nobody gives a Michelin star quality chef a hard time because she uses the same ingredients as everybody else. The magic of art is in the way the pieces are assembled. However, trying to create a unique story of our lives from within our current consumer culture is like trying to bake a cake but all you have is salt, flour, paprika, and a microwave. No matter how many ways you assemble those ingredients, and no matter how many different settings you fiddle with on the microwave, you are just not going to end up with any kind of cake.

If we have any desire to create something besides a new kind of consumer, we have to feed our imaginations different ingredients, and the ingredients of lifestyle design are stories. I think this activity is more important than we realize - certainly more important than I've realized.

The Renaissance Ideal supplies a story. I think I need to work on it a little, because I think those guys wore ruffly collars and tights and maybe had to attach themselves to donors/benefactors? You laugh, but these details are important! They carry emotional weight, and influence my core desire to adopt the model. When I think Renaissance Ideal, I can't help but imagine a man (and I wonder if many women find the model not terribly strong because they also imagine a man?) wearing stupid clothes listening to boring music working for a rich aristocrat in a city. My story might be technically wrong, maybe that's not what 'real' Renaissance men's lives were like at all, but my subconscious doesn't care - it's what pops in to my head. So this particular story doesn't move the needle for me, I've come to realize. I need to either fix my mental model of the Renaissance Ideal, go find some other stories, or both (the answer is both).

So to recap:
Okay, so here's my situation:
  • I want to be a howlie: WL7+. I'm not satisfied with cruising at WL5.
  • I find The Gert Construct attractive as well. I don't know enough to know what I don't know about all that, but I know that if I die without calluses on my hands, dirt under my nails, and sawdust in my hair, I screwed up somewhere.
  • I'm concerned that if I top-prioritize FI and defer serious work at skill acquisition, I'll fall in to the trap of a comfortable local minima.
  • I'm concerned that I'm only exposed to stories/narratives of people achieving ereWL5 at best: "elite" consumers. I think I need more exposure to non-consumer stories.
That's all for now. I've got some further ideas on stories, but they're half-baked at the moment and I wanted to get this out.

theanimal
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by theanimal »

Excellent post! It'd be great to see more examples of inspirational figures at the higher levels of the ERE Wheaton Scale. I liked your distinction that of ExtremeFIRE as just an elite level of consumerism. That level is still in Plato's cave, albeit out on the periphery. That being said, with how pervasive consumerism is and the grip money has on our society, are there really that many more positive examples at the moment than what's been found? The people (non historical) that first come to mind for me are Suelo, Ben Greenfield, Ethan Hughes, Mark Boyle and the couple from Montana in the book The Unsettlers. Unfortunately, that's it. It seems like its left to us to take action and serve as an example ourselves.

What are your thoughts on finding more of these figures?

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Ego
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by Ego »

Great post!

The extremes are often illegal in petty ways. Just enough so that the extremists are hesitant to make their extremisms known to others.

So you are stuck with the selection bias of those who either got caught (maybe not so bright) or those who were not extreme enough to rub up against the law. The real wackos, the ones with the best lessons, are secretive. Not because they are ashamed but because they are smart.

Loner
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by Loner »

Many ERE types will lay low since this lifestyle goes against much of the current citizen-consumer ideal. Not everyone wants to become a spokesperson for a given lifestyle/philosophy neither. Some just want to live and be left alone.

For all these reasons, yeah, I guess it’s difficult to find many of these people in real life. One story that I read recently that I found somewhat related to ERE was that of the North Pond Hermit, in Maine. The guy was certainly extreme. His story is beautifully told in the book The Stranger in the Woods. Regardless of the fact that he stole his supplies, his mental toughness is impressive to say the least, and he knew how to do much with little. I won’t summarize it here but I think it’s worth a read.

I kind of chuckled when I read your bit about lightbulbs. When you’re in an industry in which your product hasn’t changed for more than a century, your production process begins to be somewhat too efficient for your own profitability, so you need to start to find a way to produce more expensive crap.

Here in Canada, the debate was raging in the media more than a decade ago. Incandescents were the devil. They needed to be phased out urgently to be replaced by CFLs lest the planet be destroyed because of them (no word was spoken about cars). Cautious voices noted that they weren’t wasteful in the winter, since we need to heat anyways, and weren’t really wasteful in the summer neither since the sun is out from 5 am to 9 pm. Middle-class, virtue-signalling suburbanites responded in unison, chanting with force that we needed to transition rapidly to CFLs “for the environment and the children,” all the while, in the same breathe, getting inside their military-inspired off-road vehicle to go to the mall in order to buy a third TV. Fast-forward to now, we need to start thinking of ways of regulating the disposal of all those crappy lightbulbs because they are full of mercury. LEDs are somewhat less horrible, but as you mentioned, they are blue. In my case, they don’t affect my sleep much, but good Lord, the light they emit is horrible, I can’t stand it. You turn it on, and you instantly feel like you’re in a Walmart, on maybe a jail. Sorry, end of rant!

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Stahlmann
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by Stahlmann »

I'm concerned that I'm only exposed to stories/narratives of people achieving ereWL5 at best: "elite" consumers. I think I need more exposure to non-consumer stories.
good point.

horsewoman
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by horsewoman »

"Why don't more people become Renaissance Badasses? I think it's because of a lack of role models, of imaginative narratives from which to pick and choose. "

The posters before me made excellent points!
I can only underscore the legality aspect @ego mentioned. This is perhaps not as bad in the US compared to most parts of Europe - but I'm simply not allowed to build a yurt or tiny house on my land. I have the perfect spot for it, a husband that would be game to build it (out of wood harvested in our own lands) and still we can't do it. There is zero chance to get a building permit for it and without a permit it needs only a spiteful person taking a stroll to our woods reporting it.
So I watch off-grid videos like the Fouch Family and get frustrated, because I could rent out the farmhouse and live happily in my favourite spot in a yurt or a small wooden house on the other end of the property, and I'm FI in a blink. But its illegal.
I guess whoever takes the risk building something would not advertise it, but instead put a camouflage net over it, so that passing people and helicopters won't spot it! That cuts out a large part of Europe for people sharing their alternate living adventures.

Another thing is that people openly mock you, or think less of you for being a "jack of all trades". Only around 30 I got confident/mature enough in my choices to not second-guess myself all the time. IDK how it is in the States but in Germany there is such a high value on (traditional) education and specialization, it's ridiculous. Parents press their children into university or a trade and god help you if you realize two years in that you don't enjoy it and want to switch gears. Not seeing things trough to the end is a cardinal sin here, never mind if you got what you wanted out of a thing already or not. And the end means staying in your career until retirement at 65, driving a BMW and have a nice house.
My teachers scolded me, even mocked me when I refused to go to university after (the German equivalent of) high school, because I was an A-Student, top of my class, and it would be such a waste if I did not get a degree. I'm so glad today I was firm and did know myself well enough to know that specialization would slowly kill me with boredom. Today I wear the hat of "Tausendsassa" (Jack of all trades, master of none in German) proudly, but it was a hard and stony path. It is very tiring to defend your life choices all the time, so I try not to draw more than necessary attention to them - one less narrative/probable role model out there...

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

theanimal wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 8:29 pm
What are your thoughts on finding more of these figures?
At the moment, "start a dedicated thread for discussing and sharing stories of non-consumers/howlies" is as far as I've gotten!
Loner wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 9:54 pm
DW hates LED headlights so much that when we're driving together at night and she's the passenger, she pulls her knitted hat over her eyes.
Ego wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 9:00 pm
The extremes are often illegal in petty ways.
Ah, this is a really good point. There are several aspects of my circumstance that are definitely in a grey zone at best already, and are the main thing that make me hesitate to abandon my anonymity here. And I'm only just warming up.
horsewoman wrote:
Sat Feb 06, 2021 6:19 am
While implementing creative solutions to housing is mostly illegal mostly everywhere, the US isn't quite that bad, although depending on your location or specific family you might find high pressure to conform. But nothing at the entire-society level like you're describing - that sounds very tough indeed!

The one dynamic that brings me some hope is the loosening of enforcement practices in the wake of local disasters. For example, after a major fire in Norther California burnt up hundreds (thousands?) of homes, all of a sudden it was "okay" for people to live in RVs on other people's lands - because there were thousands of people whose homes had gone up and had nowhere else to stay. As more and more disasters disrupt more and more lives, and local governments become less and less able to cope, I think (hope) that there will be a lessening of many rules that prevent dignified but low-cost lifestyles.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

Wow - you've been putting up some great journal posts lately! I've been closely following your line of thinking regarding racing to FI with full time work vs. a slower path. You have an excellent situation with the ability to work limited hours with good compensation. Part of the reason I've shifted more to the Semi ERE strategy is because of what you've described in terms of acquiring skills along the way - and the likelihood of getting compensated as opportunities arise.

Part of me worries that if I step away from a regular work schedule for an extended period of time that I'll never want to, or be able to, go back. I'm starting to wonder whether I'd be better off making a clean break from work rather than taking a one year sabbatical. It took multiple years for me to adjust to 8-5 schedule after many years of freedom and contract work in my twenties.

---

In terms of renaissance examples, I've been thinking about Yvon Chouinard lately as I finished his memoir last month. Climber, surfer, welder, carpenter, designer, conservationist, businessman, writer, fisherman, etc. A lot of the book reminded me of ERE. He told his kids that they could pursue any career they wanted, but asked them to do some type of work with their hands because, in his experience, it leads to a more fulfilling life. I've been meaning to do a longer journal post about the book and ERE, but haven't had a chance to get my notes down and collect my thoughts.

I know Chouinard and Tompkins are/were very conscious about their personal consumption, but I doubt they were living at 1 JAFI. Perhaps I haven't drunk the full glass of ERE Kool Aid yet, but sometimes I think that achieving Gertitude might not be enough. I know that can lead to a fulfilling life, but I'm also drawn to examples like Yvon Chouinard, Doug Tompkins, Ted Turner, or Bill Gates who have affected change on a large scale. They don't fall neatly on the Wheaton scale. I mention these examples due to their work and focus on climate change.

Like I said, I still need to think about all this a bit more, but wanted to throw it out there. Thanks, as always, for some thought-provoking writing.

*ETA:

I went out for a hike this afternoon and was mulling this all over a bit more. I think the concept I may have been reaching for is legacy. Not in an ego-driven sense, but in a genuine approach to improve the world. I suppose my questions for you or others is how does legacy fit into the Wheaton scale?

The happy homesteader with a permaculture plot certainly leaves a legacy through improved soil, responsible stewardship of the land, and likely some community-building. But I wonder if that is enough. Is it enough to simply minimize our carbon footprint, or should we be doing more for future generations? I suppose that's a personal question, and it depends on the individual.

I listened to an interview with Joshua Sheats (from Radical Personal Finance) on the afford anything podcast a few years ago. They discussed his "7 stages" of financial independence. He has two stages past FI (25X expenses) which was really interesting to me at the time. In the financial abundance stage, I think he was talking about planning for generational wealth and considering legacy projects. I've heard Nords and JL Collins talk about this as well. I think the folks I mentioned above all "won the game" in their respective fields, and have focused on projects that will define their legacy.

Smashter
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by Smashter »

Awesome post AH. You'd probably vibe with Johnny from Granola Shotgun. He writes about some Gert-esque people who could provide you with inspiration. Unfortunately, he recently migrated his blog and a bunch of old posts got deleted so you'd have to use the wayback machine to find his best old stuff. (link to that here)

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

@WRC - I dig your thoughts on legacy. I haven't thought about how it fits in to the Wheaton scale, but I do have "be a good ancestor" as one of my purposes in life. Actually, that might be the meta-purpose statement of my life. I got the idea from Stephen Jenkinson in his book Die Wise... I'll expand on that later.

@Smashter - thanks for the reminder, I started following Johnny maybe a year or two ago, but totally missed his migration! I absolutely vibe with his "this is the situation we've got because of the policy decisions we've made. Most folks are going to have to figure solutions out in the grey zone / informal economy / fly below the radar" perspective.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Wonderful points everyone; I think a dedicated thread to finding howlies is in order.

I've been wrestling with some of the same ideas. Firstly, to what extent is Gertitude a realistic model for the average person? As you point out, Paul's book leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Finding more stories, outside of the usual Suelo/Boyle/Greenfield model, is important.

Secondly, can we "grease the slide" of the Wheaton Levels? How does one get a meme to effectively spread through a culture? I know Jacob has mentioned he intentionally made ERE hard to access, but from a climate doom perspective, fuck, there need to be more people doing this kind of thing. I've come to realize that I need to stop recommending the ERE book to people due to its density.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@AH - the "be a good ancestor" got me thinking of how native american tribes approach decision-making in the PNW. They have an ethos of thinking about seven generations, or 140 years. Tribal councils still regularly talk about that and operate from that perspective today. Gertitude would fit in well with that framework.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Oh, also with regard to the Renaissance ideal—I came up with the term "Renaissance Bodhisattva" to describe a polymath dedicated to the well-being of all sentient beings. Sort of like Bill Murray at the end of Groundhog Day :)

You're welcome to steal it if you like it.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

The model of Gert (hm, the Gert Construct? yes, that'll do nicely) - ahem, The Gert Construct shows you the end point, the dream of The Lazy Gardener. But on its own, it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Where did Gert get her land? Where and how did she acquire her knowledge and skills? How on earth did she learn all of that while holding down a job (assuming she had one)?
Who does she have sex with? Default would seem to be “nobody”, but I’m voting for “anybody she damn well pleases.”

Lots of interesting thoughts you’re posting. There’s a good deal of overlap in our reading lists, but much less in our skill sets* and demographic, so I’ll be interested to see where you land in a few years.

*For instance, I doubt you fret much about your ability to hoist a panel of plywood.

AxelHeyst
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Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:55 pm
Location: The Mountains, USA

Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

I'm voting for you turn The Gert Construct in to a multi-volume permaculture-themed bodice-ripper. Fifty Shades of Green: The Permanent [ahem]. Perhaps that could be part of your BEER passive income flow strategy?

Yeah I'm good on plywood hoisting, but I am worried about the fact that historically I haven't managed to keep succulents alive. Perhaps we can collaborate/combine forces at some point - chances are solid I'll semi-land near your neck of the woods in the not-too-distant future.

AxelHeyst
Posts: 637
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:55 pm
Location: The Mountains, USA

Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

RoamingFrancis wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 12:45 am
Yeah I really like that term!

horsewoman
Posts: 567
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by horsewoman »

Axel and 7wb5 on a plot of land - meet the permageeks! :lol:

7Wannabe5
Posts: 7137
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I would be happy to advise on tomato planting if you land near my neck of the woods. Hint: Russian varieties started indoors until GCC changes it up.

zbigi
Posts: 28
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 2:04 pm

Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by zbigi »

I've recently read the book as well. My personal argument against becoming a self-sufficient (food-wise) permaculturist is that I only spend $150-$200 on food per month anyway, and that includes a fair amount of takeout as well as awesome imported stuff that I can't grow locally (coffee, tea, chocolate). So, the proposition to change my life in a major way (move out of the flat into house on a plot of land etc.) and put in years of effort, in order to just not spend that $150-$200 pm, doesn't sound convincing to me.
The other argument is that food prices are expected to grow over time, as soil depletion, water shortages and extreme weather become more widespread. In which case I would be saving more than that $150-$200 pm. However, I suspect that these adverse circumstances (and thus - food prices) will increase in intensity in a fairly gradual manner, and so if they do become a real issue for me, I'll still have enough time to setup my own food factory. Also, there's no guarantee that the water shortages or extreme weather won't affect my plot's yield as well.

AxelHeyst
Posts: 637
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:55 pm
Location: The Mountains, USA

Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

@zbigi, I think your post is related to yesterday's blog post: https://earlyretirementextreme.com/lack ... ation.html

You're essentially saying you have no intrinsic motivation to become a self-sufficient permaculturist, and that your view of the future environment doesn't supply adequate extrinsic motivation. Fair enough!

For me, I feel that the benefits of spending a significant portion of my time developing a flourishing garden that feeds me and others goes well beyond the $200/mo cost of industrial food I currently maintain. Occupying my cognitive bandwidth with botany, and plant guilds, and troubleshooting hugelkultur beds, and building chicken coops out of salvaged materials or whatever else it is I'd wind up doing, well that just sounds really neat. There aren't that many things that sound like a more fulfilling use of my time, and that's a subjective and personal assessment. I'm not going to set up an expectation and put pressure on that activity that I *need* to offset all my food in 18 months or I've "failed" - that sounds awful. It's just going to be a semiERE hobby and I'll see where it goes.

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